Source Poems

The following are the original 64 word poems that Aaron Tucker wrote that the Chessbard is responding to. To find out more about the exact details of how the Chessbard translates and generates its poems, please check out the About page.

Duchamp (for white pawns)

there is a necessary slowness that creeps into
movement that matters the speed at which efficiency
transforms into product and we are just constructing
repetitions and then must resist the factory urge
and only do something once and never again
a ready-made is a purposely useless object or
a chocolate grinder is a mostly nude diagram
descending slowly in stages separate but unified, whole

Turing (for white knights)

a computable human is a calculable number if
a sequence of logic is infinite finite states
internal and interlocked then the machine moves cell
to cell similarly to how we might see
an apple and consider the variations of actions
in reaction or instruction move an apple two
cells left and execute the information within that
so we are always configured in dense relation

Calvino (white rooks)

we should imagine a chess board as big as
a kingdom by shifting helmets and seashells successively
each piece rule-bound by the seasons’ weather
coherent yet always self-destructive reforming or reassembling
like the small worming path of a caterpillar
that passageway is not a deformity but rather
a necessary harmony, a melodic chorus tuned to
a keyboard clicking, a rook sliding, a crown

Alice (for white bishops)

if we purr in check then we must
confront the surreal as if it was stable
chase dormice like rabbits like a castled king
always a logical path along red and white
opposition, a path along a narrative operating system
a directory is not a promotion unless we
carve an open rank for queen-protected pawn
and it really was a kitten, after all

Elliot (for the white King)
games are always allegorical or apocalyptic  particularly those
that demand the violence of conquering straightforward staircase
or the more subtle smothering mate of Spanish
Black Knight each in chase of lumbering crown
across unreal cities composed of ruinous shorelines of
of decomposing highrises of crumbling empires beware of
women who slide back to seventh rank or
diagonally at ease crippling good night good night

Man Ray (for the white queen)

sphere on round base sphere on round base
sphere on round base sphere on round base
sphere on round base sphere on round base
sphere on round base sphere on round base
perfect cube curl of seashell vase without flowers
cone cylindrical base wood grain to pointed apex
square pyramids are ancient tombs immobile across expanses
vase without flowers curl of seashell perfect cube

Borges (for black pawns)

if the rules of the riddle forbid the
mention of the word itself then we sink
into the labyrinthine forking paths made possible by
infinite variations around a central core full of
imagined authors with permanent memories and a tolerance
for unfinished works of strands forever dividing bifurcating
until the system itself contains every possible breath
every move every piece every person every god

Beckett (for black knights)

we invariably overlap on certain squares where we
watch in anticipation of an inevitable combination or
curtain slowly drawing down the winking out of
darkness pitch dark yelp “my kingdom for a
nightman” the drifting L-shaped path in opposition to
the absolutely straight verticals-horizontals-diagonals that clutter
or we choose to passively surround our kingdoms
retreat into a fortress of our own pieces

 Bergman (for black rooks)

from a monochrome viewpoint a plagued knight can
only be binary, dead or alive, pitch or
light and the intruding shroud only plays dark
the beach in background where we all washed
ashore by a violent storm crawl landward drag
ourselves from the sublime horizon of ocean pebbles
ground into palms small rocks in pores and
the dark that’s long been at our side

Kasparov  (for black bishops)

an opponent is rarely oppositional but more likely
our other symmetrical half, a reflection slightly distorted
we each carry our own databases own software
but at our core are our negative, transposed
poor black, intuitive but resigned to hunching forward
staring unbelieving at what we thought was a
pond but was instead just a screen a
man from a country, machine from no place

The Turk (for the black queen)

the deception is complete if we believe mirrors
ignore the obvious huddle of limbs and want
automatons that astonish beyond gears and mathematics and
obvious rotations of teeth and cogs or pulses
and conductors and strategically broken circuits then we
should weep over its cremated remains, whisper assured
eulogies because none of the departed’s family exist
a lonely fiery funeral, wood in our nostrils

Deep Blue (for the black king)

the true terror rose murky from ocean beds
sublime and primordial the ghost of digital echoes
that collided each converging and informing the other
until a “human move” perhaps conspiratorial perhaps bug
but always the distinct move of a species
unto itself a genus rooted in binary evolution
half brute half artist not a mimic but
first of a bloodline, a series of kings